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Wang set to start Yankees' postseason opener

NEW YORK -- Chien-Ming Wang got the news from pitching coach
Ron Guidry that he will start the New York Yankees' playoff opener,
and the young pitcher responded in his typically low-key manner.

"Gator told him and he sort of shrugged his shoulders: 'OK,'"
Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I'm sure there will be some
butterflies on Tuesday when they start introducing people, but this
kid doesn't let you know how he's feeling."

In announcing his rotation before Wednesday's 16-5 rout of
Baltimore, Torre said Mike Mussina will follow in Game 2 and that
Randy Johnson, bothered by a bad back, will pitch Game 3, most
likely on the road at Minnesota or Detroit. Torre didn't say
whether Jaret Wright or Cory Lidle would start Game 4, if it's
needed.

Johnson was scratched from his final regular-season start to
give his back a chance to rest. The 43-year-old left-hander has
been bothered by his back throughout the season, and it's gotten
worse recently.

"With the back situation, I want one good game out of him,"
Torre said.

Wang is 19-6 with a 3.63 earned-run average, going 11-3 with a 3.03 ERA at
Yankee Stadium. Given the Yankees' high-priced, star-filled roster,
it would have been a long shot in spring training to predict Wang
would open the playoffs.

"Not when you have Randy and Moose here," Torre said. "I
don't think he could ever dream of that."

Mussina is 14-7 with a 3.57 ERA (8-2 with a 3.30 ERA at home)
and Johnson is 17-11 with a 5.00 ERA (10-5 with a 5.01 ERA on the
road).

Torre's other big decisions will be whether to play Jason Giambi
or Gary Sheffield at first base and to choose between Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera in left field. The designated hitter is
likely to be either Giambi, Sheffield or Matsui.

"I told the players last night, I said basically: 'We have a
lot of talented people here, and I don't know what the lineup's
going to be. Just understand that,'" Torre said.

Giambi, bothered by a torn ligament in his left wrist, returned
to the lineup as a designated hitter Wednesday and homered for the
first time since Aug. 20.

Sheffield, coming back from wrist surgery on June 13, made his
major-league debut at first base on Friday night.

"Both guys have good hands. Sheff looks like he may have a
little more range," Torre said. "That's going to be probably the
toughest decision to make when you're writing the lineup down."

Matsui broke his left wrist May 11, returned as a designated
hitter Sept. 12 and played his first game back in left field on
Tuesday.

Torre is leaning toward emphasizing defense in left over
hitting, which gives Cabrera an edge.

"Melky is better than Matsui, but Matsui certainly isn't
marginal. He knows how to play it, and he can go catch it and he
gets great jumps on the ball," Torre said. "Matty doesn't scare
me with any stretch of the imagination, but the other kid has a
better arm and gets to more balls."

With all his injured players back, Torre had a batting order
Wednesday that began with center fielder Johnny Damon, shortstop
Derek Jeter and right fielder Bobby Abreu, continued with third
baseman Alex Rodriguez, Giambi and Sheffield and finished with
Matsui, catcher Jorge Posada and second baseman Robinson Cano -- who
is hitting .343.

Bernie Williams was on the bench.

"In all honesty, I don't know that there would be a better
lineup than that in postseason play offensively. That doesn't mean
they can't be beaten," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "You
pitch a little bit, you can beat anybody."